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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Two Epistles Concerning Virginity.: Chapter XI

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XI.—Perniciousness of Idleness; Warning Against the Empty Longing to Be Teachers; Advice About Teaching and the Use of Divine Gifts.

Such are the ways of all those who do not work, but go hunting for tales, and think to themselves that this is profitable and right. 385   For such persons are like those idle and prating widows “who go wandering about 386 among houses” 387 with their prating, and hunt for idle tales, and carry them from house to house with much exaggeration, without fear of God.  And besides all this, barefaced men as they are, 388 under pretence of teaching, they set forth a variety of doctrines.  And would that they taught the doctrines of truth!  But it is this which is so disquieting, that they understand not what they mean, and assert that which is not true:  because they wish to be teachers, and to display themselves as skilp. 59 ful in speaking; because they traffic in iniquity in the name of Christ—which it is not right for the servants of God to do.  And they hearken not to that which the Scripture has said:  “Let not many be teachers among you, my brethren, and be not all of you prophets.” 389   For “he who does not transgress in word is a perfect man, able to keep down and subjugate his whole body.” 390   And, “If a man speak, let him speak in the words 391 of God.” 392   And, “If there is in thee understanding, give an answer to thy brother but if not, put thy hand on thy mouth.” 393   For, “at one time it is proper to keep silence, and at another thee to speak.” 394   And again it says “When a man speaks in season, it is honourable 395 to him.” 396   And again it says:  “Let your speech be seasoned with grace.  For it is required of a man to know how to give an answer to every one in season.” 397   For “he that utters whatsoever comes to his mouth, that man produces strife; and he that utters a superfluity of words increases vexation; and he that is hasty with his lips falls into evil.  For because of the unruliness of the tongue cometh anger; but the perfect man keeps watch over his tongue, and loves his soul’s life.” 398   For these are they “who by good words and fair speeches lead astray the hearts of the simple, and, while offering them blessings, lead them astray.” 399   Let us, therefore, fear the judgment which awaits teachers.  For a severe judgment will those teachers receive “who teach, but do not,” 400 and those who take upon them the name of Christ falsely, and say:  We teach the truth, and yet go wandering about idly, and exalt themselves, and make their boast” in the mind of the flesh.” 401   These, moreover, are like “the blind man who leads the blind man, and they both fall into the ditch.” 402   And they will receive judgment, because in their talkativeness and their frivolous teaching they teach natural 403 wisdom and the “frivolous error of the plausible words of the wisdom of men,” 404 “according to the will of the prince of the dominion of the air, and of the spirit which works in those men who will not obey, according to the training of this world, and not according to the doctrine of Christ.” 405   But if thou hast received “the word of knowledge, or the word of instruction, or of prophecy,” 406 blessed be God, “who helps every man without grudging—that God who gives to every man and does not upbraid him.” 407   With the gift, therefore, which thou hast received from our Lord, serve thy spiritual brethren, the prophets who know that the words which thou speakest are those of our Lord; and declare the gift which thou hast received in the Church for the edification of the brethren in Christ (for good and excellent are those things which help the men of God), if so be that they are truly with thee. 408



Lit. “profit and righteousness.”


Lit. “go about and wander.”


1 Tim. v. 13.


Lit, “in their barefacedness.”


1 Cor. xii. 29.  [But compare Jas. iii. 1:  “Be not many teachers” (R.V.), which precedes the next citation.—R.]


Jas. iii. 2.


Lit. “speech.”


1 Pet. iv. 11.


Ecclesiasticus 5.14.


Eccl. iii. 7.


Lit. “beautiful.”


Prov. xxv. 11.


Lit. “in his place.”  Col. iv. 6.


Lit. “his soul for life.”  Prov. 18:6, Prov. 13:3, Prov. 21:23.


Rom. xvi. 17-19.


Matt. xxiii. 3.


Col. ii. 18.


Matt. xv. 14.


As 1 Cor. xv. 44 (ψυχικός).—See Jas. 3:15, 1 Cor. 2:13, 14.—R.].


See Col. ii. 8.


Eph. 2:2, Col. 2:8.


1 Cor. xii. 8-10.


Jas. i. 5.


An obscure clause, which Beelen supposes to be due to the misapprehension of the Syrian translator.  Perhaps the difficulty will be met if we read “gifts,” as do Wets. and Zing., by a change in the pointing.

Next: Chapter XII

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